A&E Department like a ‘war zone’: Derry woman claims

The Western Trust has said its A&E Department is experiencing ‘challenging times’

Altnagelvin A&E

A Derry woman has expressed concerns about people ‘abusing’ Altnagelvin’s A&E department and putting additional pressure on medical staff by unnecessarily attending.

The Trust acknowledged that the Emergency Department continues to be ‘extremely busy’ and asked people to only attend when ‘absolutely necessary’.

Local woman, Mary Kelly, attended last Monday for suspected appendicitis and likened it to a ‘war zone’ with people highly intoxicated creating an intimidating atmosphere for sick patients.

She said the place was 'packed' and an 80-year-old female patient who could not get a bed had to lie across three chairs in the waiting area where she was ‘sick all over the place’.

Staff were ‘absolutely fabulous’, she explained, but she believed there weren’t enough nurses to cope with the demand.

“There are alcoholics and drug addicts coming in who should be treated somewhere else, children don’t need to be seeing that, and they’re taking up the doctors and nurses time.

“I’d like to see some of our representatives sit in the A&E department for a night to see what it’s like.”

The Emergency Department has felt the strain in recent times due to increased numbers attending.  On numerous occasions the Western Trust has highlighted the need for A&E expansion at Altnagelvin to cope with ever growing demand and an older population.

In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak patients have again been reminded to attend only when ‘absolutely necessary’.

A spokesperson for the Western Trust said: “Our Emergency Department at Altnagelvin Hospital continues to be extremely busy.  There has been a very high number of attendances over the past number of days.

“People are seen, assessed and prioritised on the basis of individual need and staff are working very hard to ensure all patients are treated in a timely manner. Some people who attend the Emergency Department may be required to wait longer than we would like and we sincerely apologise for this.

“We continuously encourage the Public to utilise all available community services and to only attend the Emergency Department when absolutely necessary. 

“We would wish to pay tribute to our staff who are working hard and prioritising the needs of their patients during these challenging times.”

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